All the Nootropics I Tested in One Overview

Are you looking for the best nootropic stack for yourself?
Here is my list with all nootropics I tested in 2019.

Multiple nootropic stack bottles including Alpha Brain, Qualia Mind, Qualia Focus and Mind Lab Pro
All Nootropic (Stacks) I tested so far

You’ll find my 30-day reviews, benefits, side effects, ingredients and a comparison between all of them on this page. I will update this nootropic overview from time to time.

Last update: Aug 1, 2019

Neurohacker’s Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is a premium nootropic stack made by Neurohacker Collective. In a nutshell: It’s my favorite nootropic (stack) so far.

One Bottle of Qualia Mind

Benefits

  • Easier to focus & harder to distract
  • Faster in a Flow state
  • Broad ocean of awareness / Increased overall presence
  • Improved my Quantified Mind scores by an average of 7.4%

For me, Qualia Mind is really unique in adding what I call “the broad ocean of awareness” to the increased focus. No other nootropic could do that for me yet. If you apply the basic principle of Flow, which means working 90 – 120 minutes uninterrupted on one task, it will probably accelerate your learning, execution, and quality of work.

Side Effects

In the first week of taking Qualia Mind, I took it first thing in the morning before breakfast. I had slight stomach upsets for about an hour after taking it on the first two days. Here is how I resolved those side effects: Instead of before breakfast, I took them with breakfast. Pretty simple solution.

Qualia Mind Ingredients

Ingredients of Qualia Mind

Pricing & Dosage

Qualia Mind’s suggested dosage is seven capsules a day with five days on and two days off a week. For me, this worked fine.

PurchasePriceSupply at
Suggested Dosage
One time$139154 capsules
= 1 month supply
Monthly
Subscription
$119154 capsules
Monthly
Subscription
First Month
$69.50154 capsules
Discount Code*-15%Code: MAXHUG

Neurohacker’s Qualia Mind Caffeine Free

I will make this review a little shorter than the others. Qualia Mind Caffeine Free is really 98% like Qualia Mind.

Benefits

  • Same focusing effects as the standard Qualia Mind stack
  • Same overall awareness and general presence as Qualia Mind
  • Great if you are caffeine sensitive or just have ‘enough’ coffee every day through your usual morning (biohacking) coffee
  • Great to get into a state of Flow

Qualia Mind vs. Caffeine Free

Personally, I find the effect is a little less strong with Qualia Mind Caffeine Free compared to the standard Qualia Mind. But only, if I don’t drink it with coffee.

When I have a small cup (130 ml) of coffee in the morning with 7 Qualia Mind Caffeine Free pills – It’s the same effect as taking the standard Qualia Mind.

I also tried it with decaf coffee. FYI: Decaf coffee is not completely caffeine-free. When I drank 2 cups of decaf coffee I felt the benefits stronger.

Side Effects

  • I didn’t have any side effects with Qualia Mind Caffeine Free

Qualia Mind Caffeine Free Ingredients

In the caffeine-free version of Qualia Mind, two compounds are missing and one is in a lower dosage compared to the standard version:

  • Anhydrous Caffeine (0 vs. 90 mg)
  • Theobromine (0 vs. 100 mg)
  • DHA (as Docosahexaenoic Acid from Algae) (80 vs. 200 mg)

Pricing & Dosage

The suggested serving size is seven capsules a day with five days on and two days off a week. For me, 7 capsules work really well.

PurchasePriceSupply at
Suggested Dosage
One time$139154 capsules
= 1 month supply
Monthly
Subscription
$119154 capsules
Monthly
Subscription
First Month
$69.50154 capsules
Discount Code*-15%Code: MAXHUG

Qualia Mind Caffeine Free (Neurohacker.com)

Neurohacker’s Qualia Focus

Qualia Focus is made by the same Neurohacker Collective that also makes Qualia Mind. Qualia Focus is a lower budget version of Qualia Mind.

A bottle of Qualia Focus

If you wanna learn more about the differences in Qualia Focus vs. Qualia Mind see the comparison below which also explains the 4 compounds missing in Focus and the one compounds where Focus actually as a higher dosage than Mind.

Benefits

  • Increased focus
  • Faster “in the zone” / in Flow work mode
  • Harder to distract

It works especially well if you follow the basics of Flow triggers: 90 – 120 min uninterrupted work on one task combined with 8 hours of sleep a night.

Side Effects

I didn’t experience any side effects with Qualia Focus.

Qualia Focus Ingredients

Ingredients of Qualia Focus

Pricing & Dosage

Qualia Focus’ suggested dosage is five capsules a day with five days on and two days off a week. I actually took less: For me, just three capsules a day were totally enough to get the benefits. Through this, one bottle lasts longer than a month for me.

PurchasePriceSupply at
Suggested Dosage
One time$69100 capsules
= 1 month supply
Monthly
Subscription
$59100 capsules
Monthly
Subscription
First Month
$34.50100 capsules
Discount Code*-15%Code: MAXHUG

Onnit’s Alpha Brain

I actually went to the Onnit Gym in Austin Texas and bought my bottle of Alpha Brain there. I know a lot of people who take Alpha Brain but was not convinced due to the side effects I experienced.

A bottle of Alpha Brain

Benefits

  • Increased Focus
  • Less distracted

Again getting the basics right is super important to get the benefits out of nootropics.

Side effects

  • Heart palpitations
  • Nervousness

Alpha Brain is the nootropic I personally experienced the worst side effects. This also the only nootropic I know multiple people who claim to had negative side effects, too.

Alpha Brain Ingredients

Interestingly Onnit does not state the precise amounts per ingredient for most active compounds. Instead, Onnit states the amount per serving of multiple ingredients combined as “Onnit Flow Blend”. Therefore most ingredients below state a value of “n/a”.

IngredientAmount
Per Serving
Vitamin B6
(as Pyridoxine HCI)
10 mg
Onnit Flow Blend650 mg
L-Tyrosinen/a
L-Theaninen/a
Oat (straw) Extractn/a
Phosphatidylserinen/a
Cat’s Claw (bark) Extract
(ac-11)
350 mg
Onnit Focus Blend240 mg
L-Alpha GPC139.6 mg**
Bacopa Extract
(aerial parts)
100 mg
Huperzia serrata Extract
(aerial parts)
[Standardized to 1% Huperzine A]
400 mcg
Onnit Fuel Blend65 mg
L-Leucinen/a
Vinpocetine5 mg
Pterostilbenen/a

**Based on simple math: 240 mg Focus Blend minus 100 mg Bacopa extract (which is stated) minus 0.4 mg (400 mcg) Huperzia serrate Extract (which is also stated) equals 139,6 mg.

Other ingredients: Vegetarian Capsule, Maltodextrin, Dicalcium Phosphate, Rice Hull Concentrate (NuFlow)

Pricing & Dosage

The suggested serving size is two capsules a day with no days off. Onnit offers different bottle sizes. Here is the overview with all of the available ones as of July 13, 2019.

Note that Onnit currently only ships Alpha Brain to U.S. shipping addresses.

PurchasePricePrice
per
month
***
Supply at
Suggested

Dosage
One time$79.95$53.3090 capsules
= 1 ½ month supply
One time$59.88$59.8860 capsules
= 1 month supply
One time$34.95$69.8030 capsules
= 15 days
One time$18.75$80.3614 capsules
= 7 days
Subscription
(Every 2 weeks
to 3 months)
-15 %-15 %On any bottle size

***Assuming you buy one month supply in the same bottle size

Opti Nutra’s Mind Lab Pro

Opti-Nutra is a UK company based in London who manufactures a nootropic stack called Mind Lab Pro in the United States.

A bottle of Mind Lab Pro

They claim that Mind Lab Pro

meets the brain’s complex needs with 11 nootropics working in 6 bio-pathways to optimise a wide array of cognitive functions

Mind Lab Pro’s website

I’ve tested it for 30 days and here is my personal assessment.

Benefits

  • Increased focused and thereby more productive
  • Less distracted by surroundings

I am currently writing this nootropic overview on Mind Lab Pro. I really like the effect of focus and productivity. Especially on this low dose of just two capsules a day.

It even helps to stay focused when someone vacuums around the desk I am working at.

Side Effects

I did not feel any side effects of Mind Lab Pro.

Mind Lab Pro Ingredients

IngredientAmount
Per Serving
Vitamin B6 (as BioGenesis)2.5 mg
Vitamin B9 (as BioGenesis)100 mcg
Vitamin B12 (as BioGenesis)7.5 mcg
Citicolin (as Cognizin)250 mg
Bacopa Monnieri
(as full spectrum extract with
24% bacosides with 9 bioactives)
(aerial parts)
150 mg
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
(full spectrum) (fruit)
500 mg
Phosphatidylserine
(as Sharp-PS Green from sunflower lecithin)
100 mg
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine175 mg
L-Theanine (as Suntheanine)100 mg
Rhodiola Rosea
(3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides) (root)
50 mg
Maritime Pine Bark Extract75 mcg

Other Ingredients (the boring non-active ones): NutraCaps Pullulan Capsules, NuFlow Rice Concentrate.

Pricing & Dosage

The suggested dosage is two to for capsules a day with no days off. I personally like the effect of two capsules. Mind Lab Pro offers no subscription but a discount if you order more than one bottle.

PurchasePriceSupply at
Suggested Dosage
One bottle$65 / €5560 capsules = ½ to 1 month
Two bottles$130 / €110120 capsules = 1 to 2 month
Four bottles
(3+1 Deal)
$ 195 / €165 240 capsules = 2 to 4 months

MindLabPro.com

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is an active compound extracted from the Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata. It is used in some nootropic stacks like Alpha Brain. I tested tablets made by a company called Source Naturals.

A bottle of Huperzine A
Huperzine A: Zero effects for me

Benefits

I didn’t notice any benefits.

Different manufacturers claim different benefits. Source Naturals says it can reduce a mild memory loss.

Side Effects

It didn’t notice any side effects.

Huperzine A Ingredients

The Source Naturals product contains 200 mcg Huperzine A per tablet.

Pricing & Dosage

The suggested serving size is one tablet per day. I tried even two and three tablets a day but still did not notice any effects.

You can get one bottle with 120 tablets for $25 / €29 on Amazon.

Huperzine A meta study

Qualia Mind vs. Qualia Focus

A bottle of Qualia Mind next to a bottle of Qualia Focus
Qualia Mind vs. Qualia Focus
Qualia MindQualia Focus
Benefits+ Easier to Focus
+ Harder to distract
+ Faster in Flow
+ Overall awareness
+ Increased
Quantified Mind
+ Easier to Focus
+ Harder to distract
+ Faster in Flow (more narrow)
Side
Effects
+ none****+ none
Ingredients+ 22 active
compounds
+ higher dosages
+ 18 active
compounds
Pricing as
Subscription
$119 $59
Dosage7 capsules a day5 capsules a day
The Hug
Score
5/54/5

**** Besides from my slight stomach upset in the first days which was gone after I took Qualia Mind with breakfast instead of an empty stomach

Comparison of Benefits

No doubt: I prefer Qualia Mind over Qualia Focus. The overall awareness is unique in Qualia Mind and the Flow state seems to be wider and more creative. Qualia Focus works but just not as well as Qualia Mind.

Comparison of Ingredients

Qualia Mind uses 22 active ingredients whereas Qualia Focus ‘only’ got 18 active compounds. Some of the active compounds are in a higher dosage in Qualia Mind.

Vitamins

Both nootropic stacks contain the same amount of Vitamin C, D3, B6, B12 as-well as Niacin and Pantothenic Acid.

Active compounds

These four active compounds are missing in Qualia Focus:

  • Pyrroloquinoline Quinone
  • DHA (as Docosahexaenoic Acid from Algae)
  • Phosphatidylserine (Sharp-PS Green)
  • Cognizin Citicoline

Dosages

Qualia Focus is lower in these compounds:

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCI (250 mg vs. 500 mg in Qualia Mind)
  • Artichoke Stem and Leaf Extract (5% cynarin) (300 mg vs. 500 mg)
  • Thodiola rosea Root (150 mg vs. 300 mg)

Interestingly Qualia Focus uses higher dosage of Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (Alpha GPC): Qualia Mind uses 200 mg whereas Qualia Focus uses 300 mg.

Summary

Overall you get a great bang for the buck with Qualia Focus. It’s got most of the ingredients of the higher priced Qualia Mind but for half the price. Still if you want the best performance I’d recommend Qualia Mind for the added broader awareness.

Mind Lab Pro vs. Qualia Mind

A bottle of Qualia Mind and a bottle of Mind Lab Pro
Qualia Mind vs. Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab ProQualia Mind
Benefits+ Improved Focus
+ Harder to distract
+ Easier to Focus
+ Harder to distract
+ Faster in Flow
+ Overall awareness
+ Increased
Quantified Mind
Side
Effects
+ none+ none****
Ingredients+ 8 active compounds
+ higher in Citicoline
+ 22 active
compounds
+ higher dosages for most shared compounds
Pricing as
Subscription
$65 / €55**$119
Dosage2 capsules a day7 capsules a day
The Hug
Score
4/55/5

**Mind Lab Pro does not offer subscriptions

Comparison of Benefits

Mind Lab Pro increases my focus. It also helps me to stay on the task and ignore outside distractions like noises. In that sense, it works very well.

Qualia Mind does the above, too. It also adds a broad calm awareness and overall presence. I like the combination of those two benefits a lot. That’s why I chose Qualia Mind over Mind Lab Pro when just looking at the benefits.

Comparison of Ingredients

Overall Mind Lab Pro uses eight active compounds plus three vitamins whereas Qualia Mind uses 22 active compounds plus six vitamins.

Vitamins

Mind Lab Pro contains the following vitamins as ‘BioGenesis’. They claim that BioGenesis vitamins are

…are structurally identical to nutrients in whole foods

https://www.mindlabpro.com/eu/quality/

This is done by a patented process and should increase the bioavailability of the nutrients.

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B12

Qualia Mind contains:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid

Active Compounds

These two active compounds are only in Mind Lab Pro:

  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom (full spectrum) (fruit) 500 mg
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins) 75 mg

Besides the higher dosage of the four compounds below, Qualia Mind includes 16 (!) active compounds that are only in Qualia Mind.

Dosages

Interestingly, Mind Lab Pro uses twice the amount of Citicoline (as Cognizin) (250 mg vs. 150 mg) as Qualia Mind.

Qualia Mind is higher in these four compounds:

  • Bacopa Monnieri (300 mg vs. 150 mg)
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (250 mg vs. 175 mg)
  • L-Theanine (200 mg vs. 100 mg)
  • Rhodiola Rosea (300 mg vs. 50 mg)

The Bacopa Monnieri extract in Qualia Mind is not just twice the dosage but also uses a 50% bacosides extract whereas Mind Lab Pro uses an extract with only 24% bacosides.

Summary

Qualia Mind is still my favorite nootropic stack. For me, it creates not just an increased focus but also an overall presence and awareness. Mind Lab Pro for half the price does a great job at increasing focus with way fewer ingredients and only two pills to swallow.

General Nootropic Advice

Do Your Own Experiment

In the biohacking community, there is the saying ‘Your mileage may vary’.

This means that all biohacking optimization and habits including nootropics can have a different effect on everyone.

Steven Kotler from the Flow Research Collective likes to say: 

Do your own experiment

Steven Kotler

This is what I am doing and sharing on my blog here. And trying out two to three different nootropics can definitely help to feel the different effects between them.

This is no medical advice. Results can vary and these are my personal experiences with the above-mentioned nootropics.

Master the Basics

The bad (or good?) news is: There is no pill that can fix an unhealthy lifestyle.

Get the basics right for your mind and body:

  • 8 hours of high-quality sleep
  • No coffee after 11 am
  • Meditate, do yoga or some sort of embodied cognition exercise at least two to three times a week
  • Find some inspiration on my biohacking habits list

The Basics for Flow

Do one project or task without interruption for at least 90 minutes.

Which means: Your phone is in airplane mode, your Gmail tab is closed and you tell your co-workers politely to leave you alone for 90 minutes. Even better: Stay away from an office with co-workers and do home or remote office for the day.

The ‘classic’ flow research (#1 & #2) shows that you need 60 to 90 minutes to get into a Flow state. From my experience (especially with Qualia Mind) this can happen within 20 minutes with the right basics and the right nootropic stack.

Footnotes

*If you use those coupon codes, you get the best price plus an additional discount and I get a small commission that supports this blog and my biohacking nerd experiments, a true win-win 🙂

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